Iceland being a volcanic and geothermal island has thousands of geysers, warm streams, and natural hot springs and pools. While every traveler to Iceland will be fully aware of the famous Blue Lagoon (and to a lesser extent, Mývatn Nature Baths) not many know about the many hidden hot pools dotted all over the country. You can find them basically everywhere, so whether you are exploring the coast or venturing inland towards the Highlands, you will never be far from a relaxing, hot soak!
Here is a list of some of 6 of our favorite secret (and some not as secret) hot pools.
*Please be aware some of these pools are on private land so be sure to treat these natural wonders with respect. Leave them as you found them and pick up any trash you might have left behind. The water tends to come out of the ground very, very hot so make sure to be careful and test the water before getting in.
Just remember to be careful, leave nothing but footprints behind and take nothing away but your pictures and memories!
Hvalfjarðarlaug is a secluded little hot pool made out of rocks and concrete on the south shore of Hvalfjörður, about an hour drive from Reykjavík. The pool is heated by geothermal water from a nearby natural spring with a black PVC pipe leading to the pool. Bathers can control the temperature of the water simply by pumping more hot water from the pipe into the the pool.
We can’t recommend this cozy gem highly enough!
#2 Gamla Laugin (The Secret Lagoon)
Known to locals as Gamla Laugin (‘The Old Pool’ in English), this geothermal pool with a spouting geyser next to it was Iceland’s first swimming pool. As pools began to be built in towns all over the country, this remote pool became virtually abandoned for decades. That’s until its present day owner gave it new life in 2005 and rebranded it as The Secret Lagoon.
You could say the secret is out at this point, as the pool has become quite popular with locals and tourists alike. It features changing rooms, showering facilities, an outside deck, walkways and even a small café. Even though it’s one of the better known pools on our list, it still remains quite obscure as its owner, who shuns the spotlight, wants to keep the lagoon low profile and does a minimum of advertising.
This tiny natural pool on the Snæfellsnes peninsula has space for about 3 people at a time. This romantic spot is a well hidden secret and is close to the beautiful volcanic crater, Eldborg.
The pool’s temperature ranges from 36 – 40°C (97 – 104°F), which is just perfect for a warm, relaxing soak.
There is having a swim, and then there is having a dip in one of Iceland’s most picturesque valleys.
Seljavallalaug geothermal pool is tucked between the hills beneath the famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier and volcano. The hot pool is free for anyone to use, but please be respectful and don’t leave any trash behind. The pool was built by the Icelandic Boy and Girl Scout Association in 1923 and is completely maintained by local volunteers and with the help of donations.
#5 Víti in Askja
Askja is a stratovolcano in the Icelandic highlands and Víti is the name of the warm geothermal lake naturally formed at the bottom of one of Askja’s craters. Víti means ‘Hell’ in English as it was a common belief in the old days that large volcanic craters were the gates to the underworld.
Víti is a popular bathing site as the water can be quite temperate and pleasant, but please be aware that the sloping path down into the crater can be very slippery on wet days.
The lake has very mineral-rich warm water that is said to do wonders for the skin but be advised the area can be extremely hard to reach in wintertime without the use of Icelandic style super jeeps.
If you visit Víti, then you can at least tell people back home that you bathed in Hell.
Reykjadalur (“Smokey Valley”) is a beautiful valley in the vicinity of Hveragerði town. The valley is filled with hot springs, mud pools, and a hot geothermal river, where hikers can bathe surrounded by stunning Icelandic nature.
To reach the river you have to hike about 50 minutes through the valley. Reykjadalur has become more popular in recent years so don’t expect to be alone in the river. But there is plenty of space for everyone to share this little gem!